Intermarriage, Technological Diffusion, and Boundary Objects in the U.S. Southwest

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17 Scopus citations


This article draws upon ethnographic accounts of female potters’ movement and intermarriage into multi-ethnic Pueblo communities in the U.S. Southwest to illustrate how marriage networks created opportunities for innovation through the production, distribution, and consumption of boundary objects. These objects did not define boundaries but facilitated boundary crossing or bridging by potters. I argue that the concept of boundary objects is more useful than hybridity for understanding the processes of culture contact and material culture diffusion. Archaeological evidence for late twelfth through thirteenth century migrations from the Four Corners to the southern Colorado Plateau is used to make a case for a high degree of intermarriage and post-marital movement of women. Such patrilocality challenges normative views of post-marital residence, including those employed by early ceramic sociologists working in the same area of the Southwest and even at the same sites. The case that I discuss provides a contrast to other Southwest examples in which conformist transmission was more common, and helps to solve a paradox in explanations of the Southwest Pueblo Sprachbund. I conclude that the concept of boundary objects complements formal social network approaches in archaeology by bringing out the active role of objects in linking social actors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1086
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Archaeology
  • Boundary objects
  • Communities of practice
  • Diffusion
  • Innovation
  • Intermarriage
  • Migration
  • Social networks
  • Sprachbund
  • U.S. Southwest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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